ROYAL CARIBBEAN’S INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS SHIP REVIEW-
By Jen Campbell
Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas…What a great ship to spend 6 nights on! We loved it so much that we booked the same ship, same itinerary and same dates the following year. Our family loves to cruise in the colder months, when we’re longing for a tropical beach to plant our toes in the sand!
The ship Independence of the Seas underwent major renovations in 2013, added new restaurants, a café, digital signs and giant outdoor movie screen. We tried each of these out and wasn’t disappointed. We especially loved the digital systems to help us navigate this huge, yet warm and inviting ship. At any given point on the ship, we could hit the screen which would direct us to what was happening on the ship 24/7, even go so far as to get us to our stateroom, as we even got miss-directed a few times. If you’re antsy to know what’s being served in the main dining room, the menu was available in advance through the kiosks (although I prefer to be surprised).
So many wonderful venues to choose from on Indy, whether it be the cupcakes from the Cupcake Shop, Italian fare from Giovanni’s Table, Ben and Jerry’s or Johnny Rockets! We enjoyed each of these, in fact our children repeated several visits to each of these during our cruise.
If you have children, you’ll want to check out their activities for all ages of children through Adventure Ocean Programs. Kids will stay busy constantly and certainly would never claim they’re “bored!” We insisted our 2 kids check out the programs offered for just one hour, the first night, to see if they’d like it or not and while they went begrudgingly, after they stayed for a bit, they agreed it was definitely worth going to. So much so, that we barely saw them unless it was dinner time or they wanted to know if they could stay with their group longer! As shared above, since we went early December, most children were in school, so it didn’t seem overwhelming with children on either trip.
Their sun decks are immense, beach chairs are a premium (although what ship doesn’t have this problem) near the pool. We did wish they had a few more activities to partake in after the sun went down. But, since we were late diners, we didn’t seem to miss much either. During the day, so many activities, contest, shows and events abound that you won’t be bored. They have dancing near the pool, dance parties, ice skating, shows in the main promenade, great entertainment in the Alhambra Theater, full fitness facility (including a super popular boxing ring), adult-only spots, surfing at sea (was awesome to watch), ping-pong, many boutique restaurants, tons of great shopping avenues, bars and pubs, wine bar and of course, the FOOD! No meals disappointed us, whether it came from the main dining room, Giovanni’s Table, or via the Wind Jammer buffet, it was always delicious!
The service while on board Indy was impeccable and we had a terrific staff serve us each and every day. Each night our wait staff at the table knew our names, they were so friendly, and even had our favorite drink ready and of course Shirley Temples for the children too! Service was definitely a WOW! Wish we could take our wait staff home with us! Because we were discovering whether I have a gluten intolerance or not, I requested a gluten free menu. The staff (and even the maître de) explained each meal to me in detail (the night before) and I could pre-order my meal, so it was ready with the rest of my family’s meals each night. In the buffet, they also had many options for “gluten free” to choose from. If you’re in the windjammer, ask for the Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (which is kept behind the glass case)….it’s absolutely amazing!!!
On our 6 night voyage on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, they had 2 formal nights. The rest were called resort casual (tropical sundresses, khakis and soft collared shirts for the guys). On the formal nights many wore dress jackets and ties, and even some women wore a beaded gown, although cocktail dresses seemed to be the norm. During the day, very casual is super cool, most wore bathing suits, cover-ups and shoes when indoors.
Gratuities on Independence of the Seas will typically run you $12 per person per day. You can even pre-pay these prior to your cruise, which is something I love to do with our budget conscious family! Keep in mind, a 15% gratuity is automatically added to any bar tabs.
Drink packages are available on Independence of the Seas, which we opted to do for the kids and spouse, as it seemed more economically feasible to do so. These prices vary depending upon your drinking preference.
Royal Caribbean is one of my most favorite cruise lines, and would return to any of their ships time and time again. We’d got back on the Independence of the Seas again, but are super anxious to try out a new ship our next time around cruising.
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